New Study Reveals COVID-19 Raised Demand for Cannabis

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The COVID-19 pandemic has made many people feel sad, scared and anxious. For those who’ve been looking for a way to cope with the stress of living in this era, cannabis has provided relief, relaxation and happiness.

A new study revealed that 55 percent of medical cannabis users primarily seek to feel happy, while 29 percent primarily want to be relieved. Happiness is the primary reason for using medical cannabis among 39 percent of Boomers, 45 percent of Gen X, 28 percent of Millenials and 29 percent of Gen Z. This has been influencing the medical cannabis demand.

This new, national study explores whether the stressors of COVID-19 drove more Americans to use medical cannabis for mental health management. The study analyzed the correlation between national medical cannabis demands and the surges in COVID-19 cases. The results were actually pretty impressive.

The study found that as COVID-19 cases increased, medical cannabis use did, too. While the most prevalent reason for getting an medical cannabis card has been chronic pain, most of the medical cannabis patients who’ve applied for their cards over the last year did so for psychological purposes.

Veriheal, the healthcare enterprise operating the largest medical marijuana application platform in the states, partnered with graduate research scholars at London School of Economics, University of Southern California and University of Maryland to analyze the data. The Cultivating Research Education and Advocacy (CREA) Group, a business development and research firm focused on psychoactive substances, also contributed to the research.

Once the researchers uncovered this insight, they presented it to the American Chemical Society for further analysis. This congressionally chartered non-profit leads research in the global chemical enterprise.

The study was performed from January 2020 to March 2021 to learn more about medical cannabis interest and adoption by desired effects with the region, sex and age demographics in mind, in regards to COVID-19 cases in the US. The cases were tracked via the official COVID-19 CDC data tracker, and patient data came from Veriheal telemedicine platform surveys.

“When we began investigating the relationship between medical cannabis use and COVID-19, our original hypothesis was that cannabis demand would increase with COVID-19 cases as people sought out physiological relief and ways to manage stress,” said Maha Haq, the CEO of CREA and a graduate student attending University of Maryland’s School of Pharmacy. “We were stunned to find the results actually nullify that hypothesis. Instead, we found that people are seeking psychological relief in response to exogenous shocks including COVID-19 and beyond. Periods of social unrest, such as the Black Lives Matter protests and 2020 elections, can be seen as spikes in medical cannabis interest within our datasets.”

Sign-ups for medical cannabis consultations showed interest rose, as did medical cannabis appointments in which the patients were approved for cannabis. Both of these aspects of the survey elevated with COVID-19 case rising during spring 2020 and spring 2021, as well as Black Lives Matter protests in summer 2020 and the presidential pre-election in late summer. The same occurred following the attempted coup at the US Capitol in January 2021.

“Medical cannabis has traditionally been viewed as an alternative treatment for relieving physical pain and chronic ailments,” said Ms. Haq. “That most people are actually looking to the plant to ease psychological stressors, often related to external social upheaval, is an incredibly important discovery that helps medical professionals better understand evolving consumer relationships with cannabis, and from there, improve the quality of their treatment and related mental healthcare programs.”

 

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